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Marriott exec: 50pc of smartphone bookings happen within 24 hours of check-in

During the “So Many Options, So Little Budget — What’s The Best Way To Allocate Your Mobile Marketing Spend?” session, executives spoke about how companies can best incorporate mobile into an overall marketing budget. The session was moderated by Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis, Atlanta.

“We are moving towards a service-first approach and engraving mobile into it,” said Andrew Haynes, director of ecommerce marketing strategy at Marriott International, Bethesda, MD.

“It is about enhancing the customer experience,” he said.

New media
In addition to seeing a high number of smartphone mobile bookings, tablet bookings make up approximately 19 percent of Marriott reservations made within 24 hours of check-ins for Marriott.

Compared to the company’s numbers for same-day mobile bookings, Web reservations make up seven percent of same-day bookings, showing how travelers rely on mobile to make last-minute reservations while on the go.

According to Mr. Haynes, mobile makes up approximately 70 to 80 percent of the company’s new media efforts.

When the company looked at what its consumers wanted from a mobile experience, the No. 1 thing that consumers wanted to do was book a hotel from their handsets.

Marriott has a three-pronged mobile strategy that includes mobile Web, apps and SMS.

As a starting block, the company rolled out a mobile Web site in 2008 and released apps for the BlackBerry, Android and iPhone devices in 2011.

The exec also said that Marriott is seeing some interesting data around tablet bookings as being conversion drivers. Although the tablet operates similar to Marriott’s Web site, tablet users have one-half the conversion rate of the Web consumers.

With statistics pointing to mobile Web usage outpacing Web traffic by 2015, marketers have to think about how users interact with a brand and how mobile plays a role.

The online travel company has been quick to adopt to mobile with companies such as Expedia, Hotel Tonight and Travelocity aiming to capitalize on the same-day bookings that are cannibalizing mobile.

Therefore, the challenge for hotel brands such as Marriott is how to make their mobile services as seamless as possible to entice consumers to book directly from the company.

The exec also spoke about how important it is for brands to have the marketing budget to promote its mobile services such as apps. For example, when the company launched its apps, Marriott used promotional key card inserts to spread the word about the app to guests.

Mobile executives at the the Mobile Shopping Spring Summit

Context is key?
Alex Muller, cofounder/CEO of GPShopper, New York, also spoke on the panel about how companies need to approach mobile with a customer-first approach.

“Look at context to see where the most revenue comes from,” Mr. Muller said.

For big brands, this means that a mobile strategy most likely needs to contain a mobile Web site, app and an SMS program to keep up with consumers’ mobile habits.

Some of GPShopper’s clients include Best Buy and Express. For retailers, a mobile strategy needs to include how a brand ties an in-store experience with commerce, which can help build a company’s loyalty program.

For example, Best Buy recently reported that its loyalty members who actively use the company’s mobile app spend an average of 25 percent more each year than loyalty program users who do not use the app.

The exec also said that some of the company’s clients are seeing double the number of product views on mobile platforms than on Web platforms, showing how consumers are using mobile to research primarily.

The key to getting consumers to buy on tablets is context, per the exec. Once a consumer is in buying mode, they are likely to go through with a transaction regardless of having to fill out multiple forms.

Mobile advertising can also be a great way for brand engagement if done correctly, per the executive.

For instance, Chrysler used a high-budget iAd campaign that led users to a microsite that used flash, which does not load on iOS devices. The campaign fell flat and is an example of how brands need to think through the full user experience when rolling out a campaign.

Data-driven campaigns?
Similarly to Mr. Muller, an executive from Knotice said that using data and research is essential to creating an effective mobile campaign.

“People say that you have to think about content strategy with mobile, but you also have to think about the data strategy that will drive campaigns,” said Dave Lawson, director of mobile engagement at Knotice, Akron, OH.

Between email, SMS and other mobile platforms, consumers are giving out tons of data for marketers to use. The challenge becomes how companies use the data to make marketing unique and tailored towards consumers.

According to a recent report from Knotice, 27 percent of email opens happen on mobile devices, showing how email should be considered a prime part of a company’s strategy. Mr. Lawson said that in some instances, mobile open rates can be up to 50 percent for clients.

Similar to all marketing, companies need to use their data to drive campaigns that work for their own brand versus worrying about what a brand’s competitors are doing.

Although social media can be an effective way to listen to what consumers are saying about a brand, it can be difficult to turn the medium into a measurable, ROI-driven channel.

Chris Reighley, director of ecommerce at totes Isotoner, Cincinnati, OH, claims that the company saw 15 percent of revenue coming from mobile this past holiday season.

Nowadays, the mobile phone has become the glue that holds society together, per the executive.

In the past, looking at how mobile played a role in overall traffic was important. However, now it is important to see how mobile traffic breaks down by device to make marketing more tailored to specific groups of consumers.

Although smartphones might not be the conversion machines that tablets are, they do have the possibility of bringing users back to lead to conversion.

When it comes to SMS, although the opportunities are huge for connecting to consumers, brands need to remember that consumers only give out their mobile phone number to a select number of people and companies, and therefore messages need to be relevant and used in moderation.

“It is not about the channel, it is about the consumer and how they are using it,” Mr. Reighley said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York